This Sunday will mark that special day when we pay annual homage to Moms across our Southern California community. Although it comes only once a year, most moms who have embraced parenthood will proudly proclaim that "every day is Mother's Day." Parenting is such an amazing adventure. Even with its occasional challenges and learning experiences, it is an absolutely blessed journey in every way. As a mother of twin children, my husband and I became an overnight, instant family of four. We were thrust into parenthood without a toolkit to prepare us – and yet, the pathway in many ways has felt surprisingly natural. Most notably, it's been a cherished whirlwind of milestones, memories and moments that can never be forgotten. What is it exactly that prepares us for this avalanche of love, joy, overwhelm, and ecstasy we feel when we become parents – and mothers in particular? Has it been this way since the beginning of time? Did parents living in the pre-civilized age feel the same depth of devotion and connection for their offspring? Were their ties equally emotional – or merely biological? Has every generation enjoyed the same love affair with parenthood as today's does? And what does it really mean to be a mother anyway?
Mother's Day is a time to reflect on why we do the things we do. As mothers, we certainly wear many hats: child-bearer, food provider, nurturer, laundry doer, boo boo healer, toy fixer, homework helper, carpool driver and cuddle partner … to name a few. Just call us child-whisperers. One way or the other, we are a lucky breed. It is almost haunting how, for many of us, the role of motherhood slips on so easily like a silk robe and pair of slippers you've always been meant to wear. You don't know where it will take you, but you are guided by a mystical compass that prompts you to the next place, the next age, the next experience … the answer to the next new question served up while snuggling at night. When my children were three years old all they wanted was for mommy to lie on the couch and make butterflies for them with my hands for hours on end. If I could bottle that moment, I would wear it forever in a chain around my neck. It goes by so quickly and even as we try to capture it, the childhood years float right past us like bubbles that are hard to completely catch. You grab a few – but the rest have disappeared before you realize that they were all around you.
Having children and being a parent makes us aware of savored moments and the passage of time in an entirely new way. In this vein, we are motivated to make life decisions and do things for our kids that we might otherwise not have the courage or motivation to undertake. This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shared that he had undergone gastric bypass surgery earlier this year to try to reduce his weight. As a father of four, he cited having made that decision out of love for his children. While Christie is certainly neither a woman – nor a mother – he is a parent, and one who rose to the occasion at least in large part for his kids. His primary motivation wasn't his health – but his desire to remain present in their lives. Maybe that's the essence of parenthood, feeling consumed by a love that makes the seemingly impossible … possible.
There is no question that motherhood is a monumental responsibility and undertaking – and for most women, it will also be the single most profound experience of their lives. Rather than trying to understand it all, perhaps we're best advised to just enjoy every minute of the ride. And know that when we ask ourselves "What it means to be a mother?" the answer is we are inspired to become better people simply for the presence of our children. That notion, along with unconditional love and the hope that we can pass along to them the very best sum of all that we are. And for their part, in the immortal words of Jerry Maguire …they "complete us."
Happy Mother's Day.